Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto ・京都の哲学の道.
Philosopher’s Path – (Tetsugaku no Michi ・哲学の道), Kyoto.
It’s a walking path, a pedestrian trail, that runs about along a small canal (part of the Lake Biwa Aqueduct system) at the base of Kyoto’s East Mountain (Higashiyama ・東山).
Professor Kitaro Nishida (1870-1945) taught philosophy at Kyoto University from 1910 until 1928. He famously strolled this Higashiyama canal path during his daily commute to the university and as he meditated reconciling Japanese and Western religious and philosophical tenants. His most famous, and original, work was An Inquiry into the Good.*
I enjoy all seasons, but autumn’s my favorite. That said, with so many cherry trees lining Philosopher’s Path springtime and cherry blossom-viewing is perhaps most other people’s favorite time to walk the Path. On some summer nights you can find yourself in virtual clouds of fireflies (hotaru・ホタル). I haven’t walked Philosopher’s Path in the snow, yet, but can imagine the sublime beauty (and having it mostly to myself).
Also along the path (especially as you get closer to Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion), you’ll find more than a few tea houses, coffee shops, souvenir shops, small boutiques and galleries. On the southern end (right-hand side as you’re facing the eastern mountain) there’s Eikan-do temple, a beautiful place. Philosopher’s Path also runs through some of Kyoto’s most expensive properties. The photo below shows a garden entrance to one of the Houses of the Wealthy. The view, though, is free . . .
Map of Philosopher’s Path (and views of / links to nearby sites)
Just below this map click on “View Larger Map” and you’ll see it all much more clearly. As you walk, this takes you from the east end of Marutamachi Street (丸田町道), across Shirakawa Street (白川道), up to Philosopher’s Path. Note the other nearby sites, and some photos (click on the icon) to help you get your bearings:
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Coming next: Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺), a/k/a “The Silver Pavilion” (that’s not really silver):
* Excerpt from an Amazon.com review of An Inquiry into the Good:
“Nishida’s approach to metaphysics, however, is unique. Nishida was personally influenced profoundly by zen. Zen is often suspicious of abstract, rational conceptions of reality and instead favors a method of “direct seeing” in approaching reality. This is in direct contrast to the Western method of approach to questions about the nature of reality which rely primarily on logic and rational argument in attempting to determine or uncover the nature of reality. Nishitani Keiji summarizes these different approaches well in his book on Nishida. Nishitani writes, ‘The sense of quest…as it appears in Plato’s dialogues entails a spirit of inquiry aimed at the gradual discovery through dialogue of something new, something not yet known to the participants. This spirit appears as the standpoint of pure reason that seeks to uncover something new and completely unknown, to discover according to the laws of logic.’”